Tribute to former Halifax priest John Abberton

Former Halifax priest John Abberton
Former Halifax priest John Abberton

Halifax priest Father John Abberton, whose work took him all over West Yorkshire, has died, aged 69.

Fr Abberton was brought up in Halifax where he attended St Gregory’s Grammar School.

From there he went to St Mary’s College in Aberystwyth before starting his studies for the priesthood at Ushaw College.

During his time there he obtained a degree in theology and anthropology from Durham University. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Wheeler at St Bernard’s, Halifax in 1975.

After his ordination Fr Abberton was appointed as assistant priest at Our Lady of Lourdes, Huddersfield. In 1979 he moved to the Heart parish in Leeds and in 1982 he went to St Robert’s, Harrogate.

In 1987 Bishop Konstant appointed Fr Abberton as Parish Priest of St Joseph’s, Goole where he remained until 1995. In that year began his long association with the city of Bradford. From 1995 until 2002 he was Parish Priest of St Peter’s, Leeds Road and in 2002 he moved to St Mary’s, East Parade. Following the closure of St Mary’s in late 2006 Fr Abberton became Parish Priest of Holy Spirit, Heckmondwike.

Fr Abberton worked in the area for nine years and presided over the centenary of the church in 2014. A centenary appeal by the parish raised £100,000 and this, together with a grant from English Heritage, enabled the restoration of the church to be carried out to commemorate this landmark in the history of the parish.

In 2015 Fr Abberton returned to Bradford to take up appointment as Parish Priest of St Anthony’s, Clayton. His time there, however, was overshadowed by ill-health and in 2017 he retired to live at Idle on the outskirts of the city, where Bishop Marcus visited him regularly.